Published: April 6th 2011February 23rd 2011
We left Mount Cook and the day was looking rather dreary but Lake Punkaki was looking just as turquoise as the day before and it was a lovely drive back around its waters edge. We were headed to Twizel so turned right at the end of the road back from Mount Cook and soon encountered some more beautiful Lakes. Although these didn’t quite have the colour of Lake Tekapo or Punkaki they were crystal clear and mountain backed. So we pulled up beside Lake Aviemore for a cuppa and a cheese sandwich - our staple diet for lunch these days - and went down to the waters edge where we skimmed stones on the glassy surface for a while as the day had turned out in brilliant sunshine!!
When we arrived at Twizel we were a little surprised to find it basically consisted of a small square of shops, a supermarket and information centre. So we filled up on fuel and headed out on the road back towards the coast and Omarau. This was a beautifully old city with some fabulous buildings but all the holiday parks were expensive to stay in. This is the place to view the little
blue penguins but you have to pay to go see them so we decided we weren’t going to. At the information centre we found a leaflet for a small and cheap place just down the road, so we hopped back in the van and headed the 20 minutes further down the road to Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park. It was a really laid back place right nest to the beach and only 5 minutes to some shops. The Moeraki boulders were only a half hour walk along the beach but after having been driving most of the day we decided we would chill for the night with a few glasses of wine and then head to see them in the morning.
Luckily it was a lovely warm and sunny morning so after breakfast we headed down the beach to boulders. We came across a few which were really small and there weren’t many people around. Mark was convinced these were what we were trying to find but after reminding him these were a major attraction and that there is a café on the cliff above them he conceded to walk further down the beach to find them. It took us
quite a while to walk along the beach as we kept stopping to pick up shells on the way and Mark even found some Paua shell. We eventually made it to the real boulders and there were lots of people about. They are quite extraordinary really considering they are just rocks. They are spherical but look like Maltesers inside, and break up like a honeycomb.
That evening we went to see if we could find any of the Yellow - eyed penguins we had been told about. There is a reserve and a lookout for them about 8 km outside of where we were staying. It wasn’t a particularly good evening as it was raining when we left (as it had been doing most of the afternoon) but thought it was still a good idea to go and take a look. Unfortunately it was high tide so the little bay they come in on didn’t have much sand that they needed to wander u before heading off to hide in the bushes. But we did see about 4 come in with the waves and another sitting on the hill the other side to the hide out. After a while watching
it started to get a little crowded in the hide so we headed on out to watch the seals for a bit. One of them was sitting right up on the hillside so we decided to take a photo as it was quite high up and would have been quite exhausting to pull itself that far from the sea. Whilst stood taking a picture one of the male bulls started climbing up the bank so we hung around to watch it for a bit. Mark stopped to take another photo and then we started to walk away. As we did the bull started barking at us and coming towards us so we turned around again. As we did it arched its back with head in the air and posed for the camera. So we obediently took another photo of it. As Mark lowered the camera in order to walk away it lowered its head and glared at us, as soon as the camera was raised again he arched his back and posed - it was all a very bizarre game!! Eventually, despite the glare from the seal, we headed back on to the van. I got sidetracked by needing the
toilet but as I opened the door to the port-a-loo (oh the glamour) a little head peaked out from around the side - sitting behind the loo not a metre from me was a little Yellow Eyed Penguin. Having been told that we weren’t supposed to get that close we were a little unsure as to why he was there and he seemed in a rather vulnerable position. So in trying to find a phone number for the ranger I had to run back down the hill (which was really rather steep) and back up again! The ranger only lived next door and so came out and manoeuvred him through the fence so he was away from the flow of visitors and safe until he had finished moulting. So with the good deed done we headed back to the came for dinner.
The following day was absolutely horrible and didn’t stop raining. So we sat in the van reading for a bit before making lunch. We headed over to the kitchen and I turned the TV to see if there was any news on - within 2 minutes there was breaking news about the Christchurch earthquake. What I had thought
was Mark messing about and shaking the van not 20 minutes ago had actually been the earthquake that hit Christchurch. It was a little unnerving to know I’d felt it all the way down in Moeraki. We watched the news for the rest of the afternoon, got hold of Dad and Sandra to make sure they weren’t back in Christchurch and waited for the time difference so we could get hold of someone at home!! It was crazy to think we had left Christchurch not 3 days ago and some of the things we’d seen were destroyed. We could pick out exact places and locations that had collapsed including one place we’d all gone for dinner one night. We were heading down to Dunedin the following day to catch up with Dad and Sandra for the last time so we tried to stay focused and positive on that. There was nothing we could do in helping with the crisis although we both desperately wanted to go back and help out in the places we’d been.
P.S I know this is being published some time after the earthquake now but I am trying to keep the blog in
order or I’ll be in real trouble when I come to organise it. I don’t even know what day it is anymore!!
There are more photos below